Judge who critiqued Oregon State Hospital to leave U.S.

From the Salem Statesman Journal, April 10 2009

Writer of controversial report secures five-month consultant contract in eastern Europe

The author of a critical report about the Oregon State Hospital said Friday that he plans to step down from his latest state-paid consulting job to take new work in eastern Europe.

Thursday will be the last day James Hargreaves serves as chief legal services analyst for Bruce Goldberg, director of the state Department of Human Services.

According to Goldberg and Hargreaves, his looming departure has nothing to do with the tempest that arose in the wake of his state hospital report.

“The only controversy I know of is the one you guys created,” Hargreaves said. “No, that has nothing to do with it. This is just the way consulting works.”

Hargreaves recently became a $150-an-hour consultant for Goldberg, a job he took on the heels of his one-year stint as state hospital “special master.” In that role, Hargreaves tracked hospital reforms at the behest of Gov. Ted Kulongoski. He got paid $252,465 for the job.

His 14-page final report, dated Feb. 23, rapped hospital management for poor planning, undefined goals and a lack of urgency. It reached the desks of Kulongoski and Goldberg in early March.

However, the report wasn’t made public until the Statesman Journal obtained it from the governor’s office and posted the document on the newspaper’s Web site March 31.

Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, and other legislators vented anger and frustration about the handling of the report. They said it should have been made public earlier by the governor’s office and Goldberg, particularly since Oregon taxpayers footed the bill for Hargreaves’ work, as well as state hospital improvements.

Newspaper coverage of Hargreaves’ report drew a barrage of online comments from readers. Many people expressed outrage about the amount of his pay. Some compared the cost with the brevity of the report.

Terms of Hargreaves’ contract as special master called for him to be paid $150 per hour and set his maximum pay at $300,000. His actual pay turned out to be nearly $50,000 less than the specified top amount.

After completing his state hospital work in late February, Hargreaves began working for the state Department of Human Services under a separate contract.

Goldberg hired Hargreaves — who spent 18 years as a Lane County Circuit Court judge — to scrutinize legal expenses at the agency.

Hargreaves said Friday that he opted to leave early.

“The arrangement was that I’d work through June or until I found something else to do,” he said. “So I’ve got the opportunity, and that will give me about five months work overseas. In the work I do, you just keep going from job to job.”

Hargreaves plans to leave April 21 for Chisnau, Moldova — between Romania and Ukraine in eastern Europe — to work as a company-hired consultant on a courts project.

“There’s a company that even I had never heard of; they do projects for the World Bank,” he said. “They’re finishing up a project with the courts in Moldova. They’re down to the last six months, and I’m going to go over and sort of help them plug holes and pick up loose strings and that sort of thing.”

Hargreaves said his new job meshes with his past consulting work, which has taken him to far-flung places.

“I’ve worked all over central Asia and the Balkans and whatnot,” he said. “So this is just another country.”

Looking back on his year of work as special master at the embattled state-run psychiatric hospital, Hargreaves described it in positive terms.

“I thought it was great, loved it,” he said. “It was just a big challenge. They’re good people (at the state hospital) who are trying hard. It’s got a long ways to go, and I’m hopeful they’ll get there.”

Hargreaves declined to discuss his views on specific hospital reforms.

“I just really don’t want to go into this,” he said. “I’m moving on, and I just think that I ought to let that go.”

Goldberg was in Medford Friday and didn’t have time for a phone call to discuss Hargreaves’ departure due to his tight schedule, said Patty Wentz, a spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services.

Wentz relayed this comment from Goldberg: “I greatly appreciate the work Judge Hargreaves has done for DHS. It has been a great asset to have someone with his background and experience to use as a resource.

“We were aware that once he completed his duties as special master for the Oregon State Hospital he could get called for international service at any moment and we wanted to utilize his skills as much as possible until then.”

Additional Facts

Gov. Ted Kulongoski appointed former judge James Hargreaves as special master overseeing Oregon State Hospital improvements in February 2008 after a scathing federal report about patient care and conditions at the psychiatric facility in Salem.

In his final report to Kulongoski, dated Feb. 23, Hargreaves said the hospital has made some progress. However, he said the push for reforms has suffered from poor planning, undefined goals and a lack of urgency.

The state is moving forward with plans to replace the 126-year-old hospital with a 620-bed, $280 million facility by 2011.

READ – Author of report on state hospital plans to resign, Oregonian April 11 2008
READ – James Hargreaves’ report to Ted on the Oregon State Hospital to Ted Kulongoski